Apple outlines Apple Pay, NFC operation in comprehensive patent filing

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2014
For a major mobile payment platform on the verge of launch, not much is known about the nuts and bolts behind Apple Pay. A new patent application discovered on Thursday, however, offers a detailed look at how NFC, secure enclaves and software come together to make safe transactions a reality.

Passbook Apple Pay


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published Apple's application for "Methods for Adjusting Near Field Communications Circuitry during Mobile Payment Transactions." The document provides both a broad overview of what appears to be Apple Pay -- as described by Apple at announcement and subsequent marketing materials -- as well as a more detailed look at exemplary NFC hardware architecture and operation.

Apple first goes over the basics of its touchless payment system. Leveraging a near field communication (NFC) module, like the component incorporated into Apple's latest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets, a user device is capable of detecting the electromagnetic field of a point-of-sale terminal.

After securely authenticating both device and POS terminal, the system securely transfers over user credentials and tokenized payment data using various encryption methods. The merchant payment processor can connect to a payment network subsystem to verify said credentials and log transaction.


Source: UPSTO


A section of the patent deals with payment networks and card issuing banks, which for Apple Pay includes a growing list of partners like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and more. For the user device, each subsystem is treated similarly and can be combined through appropriate services like Apple's Passbook app.

As for payment credentials, such as credit card or stored-value card information, the system meshes software and hardware encryption for secure input and storage. In some cases, a user connects to a service provider subsystem to provision new cards onto their device. A broker module on the user device side takes care of authentication with payment network subsystems and manages credentials, while a trusted service manager (TSM) handles secure interaction with POS terminals.

Using this technique, the system is able to remotely authorize secondary user devices to download card provisions. Apple already announced the forthcoming Apple Watch will be Apple Pay-compatible and the patent confirms support for a secure enclave on accessories, mentioning a wristwatch as an example. These secondary devices do not necessarily require the same cellular connectivity as the originally provisioned device, but can instead perform a subset of payment functions as long as a secure enclave is present.

Apple Pay employs similar protections in storing sensitive user data, with a dedicated Secure Element chip holding credit card information necessary for completing payments. Instead of sending over card numbers and a card holder's name, the secure enclave generates unique digital tokens that are decoded by compatible POS systems using a shared secret method.

Tokenizing payment data makes it useless to would-be thieves who manage to intercept the information during the transmission process. In the patent, these functions are covered by the TSM module.

Apple Pay setup windows found in iOS 8.1 beta 2. | Source: Hamza Sood via Twitter


Today's filing is specifically concerned with NFC protocols and the hardware and software safeguards required to perform secure transactions without physical connections. The document starts with link establishment which, as mentioned above, is a procedure that begins with a user device detecting a nearby POS.

In response to detecting the merchant terminal, a user device takes its NFC receiver out of idle mode and awaits incoming polling commands. If these commands are authenticated, the device establishes a compliant link to carry out data transfer operations and shares link attribute information between both systems.

To thwart multiple unsuccessful payment attempts, the invention builds in hardware response settings capable of reconfiguring NFC modules on either end of the transaction for optimal transmission. For example, if the payment device falls out of range or packet data is lost, a processing loop is started to reconnect while the POS terminal saves user credentials in case a connection is reestablished within a predetermined amount of time.

Alternatively, power output and other hardware settings can be adjusted dynamically to ensure a continuous link. If a no-response scenario is encountered, the device reverts back to a default idle loop to restart the process.


Illustrative settings used to control the NFC circuitry in the user device.


The patent also describes in great detail exemplary NFC operating modes, power setting, adjustments, timing windows and other usage protocols that ensure a safe, user-friendly experience.

Apple's patent application for Apple Pay NFC procedures was first filed for in May 2014 and credits Vusthla Sunil Reddy, Mohit Narang and Peter Agboh as its inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    This is exactly like Google Wallet¡
  • Reply 2 of 30
    singularitysingularity Posts: 1,329member
    The more detailed a patent is the easier it is to work around. Or is it because there are other payment systems using NFC that it has to be so detailed to get patent protection?
  • Reply 3 of 30
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    This is exactly like Google Wallet¡



    NOT Google Wallet at all.  

     

    1. Google stores your credit card numbers.  Apple Pay does not.  Thieves like the NSA can break into Google's cloud servers and take your credit card numbers.  This is impossible with Apple Pay since Apple Pay stores no credit card numbers.

     

    2. Google tries to eliminate credit card companies by creating its own credit card number to replace all of your credit card numbers. This is why Google Wallet is so unpopular with credit card companies. Apple Pay does not compete with the credit card companies at all, it works with them.  This is why so many companies have decided to work with Apple.  Apple reduces their risk of fraud.  And Apple insures their businesses continue.  And Apple increases the likelihood that their business grows.  Even MasterCard itself paid for huge ads touting and encouraging the use of Apple Pay.  That is how excited credit card companies are about Apple Pay.

     

    3. Google stores information on ALL of your purchases on Google Wallet - so it can track your activities and sell the information to advertisers.  Apple does not store information about your purchases.  it doesn't sell information about you to advertisers. 

  • Reply 4 of 30
    thepixeldocthepixeldoc Posts: 2,257member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    This is exactly like Google Wallet¡

    +1 - You beat me to it!
  • Reply 5 of 30
    thepixeldocthepixeldoc Posts: 2,257member
    jameskatt2 wrote: »

    NOT Google Wallet at all.  

    1. Google stores your credit card numbers.  Apple Pay does not.  Thieves like the NSA can break into Google's cloud servers and take your credit card numbers.  This is impossible with Apple Pay since Apple Pay stores no credit card numbers.

    2. Google tries to eliminate credit card companies by creating its own credit card number to replace all of your credit card numbers. This is why Google Wallet is so unpopular with credit card companies. Apple Pay does not compete with the credit card companies at all, it works with them.  This is why so many companies have decided to work with Apple.  Apple reduces their risk of fraud.  And Apple insures their businesses continue.  And Apple increases the likelihood that their business grows.  Even MasterCard itself paid for huge ads touting and encouraging the use of Apple Pay.  That is how excited credit card companies are about Apple Pay.

    3. Google stores information on ALL of your purchases on Google Wallet - so it can track your activities and sell the information to advertisers.  Apple does not store information about your purchases.  it doesn't sell information about you to advertisers. 

    You missed the *¡* which means sarcasm or /s.

    Soli's sarcasm is directed at a different poster in a different previous thread about Google Wallet "being the same and before ApplePay".
  • Reply 6 of 30
    My worry is that the average consumer and even slightly above average consumer (and possibly android users) won't see the difference between the two and the security differences will be lost in the FUD.
  • Reply 7 of 30
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,406member
    You missed the *¡* which means sarcasm or /s.

    Soli's sarcasm is directed at a different poster in a different previous thread about Google Wallet "being the same and before ApplePay".

    I've been playing with a new L lens for the last few days ... I missed that thread... who was the 'different' poster out of interest?
  • Reply 8 of 30
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,406member
    My worry is that the average consumer and even slightly above average consumer (and possibly android users) won't see the difference between the two and the security differences will be lost in the FUD.

    Just trying to see the bright side here ... While true, there surely will be be only a fraction of the places to use an Android lash up compared to ?Pay won't there? If I'm correct then I suspect that abundant availability of ?Pay terminals / banks, plus seeing others having so much fun with one touch will drive even more people to abandon the 60% profit loosing Scamsumg junk :D
  • Reply 9 of 30
    thepixeldocthepixeldoc Posts: 2,257member
    I've been playing with a new L lens for the last few days ... I missed that thread... who was the 'different' poster out of interest?

    Poster: NexusPhan in this thread

    "L" lens? Which one may I ask?
  • Reply 10 of 30
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,406member
    Poster: NexusPhan in this thread

    "L" lens? Which one may I ask?

    Thanks for info.

    I have taken up wildlife photography in semi retirement ... so I got the 100-400mm L IS USM ... it's sweet :)
  • Reply 11 of 30
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,521member
    You missed the *¡* which means sarcasm or /s.

    Soli's sarcasm is directed at a different poster in a different previous thread about Google Wallet "being the same and before ApplePay".

    Although thanks are due to jameskatt2 for drawing the distinctions vs. Google Wallet anyway. If that's really the way it works, what a difference between the two approaches.

    I keep thinking of Eric Schmidt saying that Google is more secure with your data. And that Samsung did the iPhone 6es a years ago.
  • Reply 12 of 30
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,157member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    Just trying to see the bright side here ... While true, there surely will be be only a fraction of the places to use an Android lash up compared to ?Pay won't there? If I'm correct then I suspect that abundant availability of ?Pay terminals / banks, plus seeing others having so much fun with one touch will drive even more people to abandon the 60% profit loosing Scamsumg junk image

     

    While true that Apple Pay has TouchID and the Banks on Apple's side. EVERY single place that Apple Pay can and will be used with NFC, so can Google Wallet and others of the same nature. NFC is the one standard that they all have regardless of the company. The NFC POS don't know if it's Apple Pay, Google Wallet or Soft Card or the many other ways to pay using NFC. 

     

    Every single one of the 220,000 places that Apple said Apple Pay would be accepted when launched, Google Wallet and the others can already use each and every single one of them.

     

    I am not saying the they are the same, they are not. I'm super excited about Apple Pay and can't wait for it to launch so I can use it. People seem to think that brick and mortar retailers are ONLY going to accept Apple Pay and not others. This is not true in the form it's being released as of now.

     

    In addition, the "demo" Apple did with the NFC POS, where they waved the iPhone and did TouchID and left, made it seem so quick and seamless. This is also not really how it's going to be. Yes, you will wave your phone and do the TouchID but you will also have other things to touch on the POS such as, "do you want to donate to whatever charity we are promoting right now?" "is this the correct amount" and other things similar to that. Pretty much just like you already do when you swipe your card. Apple made it look like all you have to do is touch and go. MOST places are not going to be like that.

  • Reply 13 of 30
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Soli's sarcasm is directed at a different poster in a different previous thread about Google Wallet "being the same and before ApplePay".

    Not a different poster* on AI so much as people in pretty much every (if not every) article I've read about ?Pay on other sites, especially if they aren't specifically tech-based sites.Most notably the NYTimes.




    * I disagreed with [@]NexusPhan[/@] in that thread but I seem to recall that we were using different definitions. I don't recall coming away thinking he was an unreasonable person like the countless posters in those NYT comments I linked to.
  • Reply 14 of 30
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    I've been playing with a new L lens for the last few days ... I missed that thread... who was the 'different' poster out of interest?



    What "L" len you're playing with? (supposed it is Canon's?)

     

    Oh I saw you got a new telephoto zoom. What aperture if I may ask?

  • Reply 15 of 30
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,939member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ThePixelDoc View Post





    +1 - You beat me to it!



    +2

  • Reply 16 of 30
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,939member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SirLance99 View Post

     

     

    While true that Apple Pay has TouchID and the Banks on Apple's side. EVERY single place that Apple Pay can and will be used with NFC, so can Google Wallet and others of the same nature. NFC is the one standard that they all have regardless of the company. The NFC POS don't know if it's Apple Pay, Google Wallet or Soft Card or the many other ways to pay using NFC. 

     

    Every single one of the 220,000 places that Apple said Apple Pay would be accepted when launched, Google Wallet and the others can already use each and every single one of them.

     

    I am not saying the they are the same, they are not. I'm super excited about Apple Pay and can't wait for it to launch so I can use it. People seem to think that brick and mortar retailers are ONLY going to accept Apple Pay and not others. This is not true in the form it's being released as of now.

     

    In addition, the "demo" Apple did with the NFC POS, where they waved the iPhone and did TouchID and left, made it seem so quick and seamless. This is also not really how it's going to be. Yes, you will wave your phone and do the TouchID but you will also have other things to touch on the POS such as, "do you want to donate to whatever charity we are promoting right now?" "is this the correct amount" and other things similar to that. Pretty much just like you already do when you swipe your card. Apple made it look like all you have to do is touch and go. MOST places are not going to be like that.




    True, but many, many retailers have stopped using the NFC portion of their POS devices because of all the headaches they had. This will get them to turn them back on and yes they can limit their use to Apple Pay if they want.

  • Reply 17 of 30
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,157member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mike1 View Post

     



    True, but many, many retailers have stopped using the NFC portion of their POS devices because of all the headaches they had. This will get them to turn them back on and yes they can limit their use to Apple Pay if they want.


     

     

    Agreed that retailers turned them off because both the consumer and the retailers were not properly educated about the ease of use of NFC. 

     

    You're wrong about the limit just to Apple Pay. NFC is the standard. What Apple is doing is all on the backend. If the NFC is turned on, all NFC ways to pay will work. 

  • Reply 18 of 30
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    sirlance99 wrote: »

    Agreed that retailers turned them off because both the consumer and the retailers were not properly educated about the ease of use of NFC. 

    You're wrong about the limit just to Apple Pay. NFC is the standard. What Apple is doing is all on the backend. If the NFC is turned on, all NFC ways to pay will work. 

    That's like saying that that once a CC machine is turned on they have to accept all cards. Clearly they can choose which multinationals they want to accept from so I don't think it's too extreme to think the same could happen with NFC if ?Pay truly does give better than card present rates to merchants while non-?Pay NFC only offers card absent rates. A vendor will surely be able to see if the person is using an iPhone or not.
  • Reply 19 of 30
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,521member
    mike1 wrote: »

    True, but many, many retailers have stopped using the NFC portion of their POS devices because of all the headaches they had. This will get them to turn them back on and yes they can limit their use to Apple Pay if they want.

    The lesson is that Google once again pollutes the well by releasing an immature, half-assed, self-interested version of a new technology. Once again? Google Glass perverts the whole concept of wearable displays by being left-brained and monocular, thus intolerably geeky. That's my favorite. I'm sure others have other examples.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,157member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    That's like saying that that once a CC machine is turned on they have to accept all cards. Clearly they can choose which multinationals they want to accept from so I don't think it's too extreme to think the same could happen with NFC if ?Pay truly does give better than card present rates to merchants while non-?Pay NFC only offers card absent rates. A vendor will surely be able to see if the person is using an iPhone or not.

     

    CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

    You see that logo right there. That's the universal logo for all contactless payments regardless of the company. Which is also on Apple's own website explaining to "Look for this icon at checkout." 

     

    What I was trying to point out was that different hardware isn't required by the merchant. It's the same NFC tech for NFC enabled cards, Apple Pay, and Google Wallet. As far as the merchant is concerned, they're all essentially the same thing.

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